Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Did you know that you have a nervous system in your gut? This is known as the enteric nervous system or ENS…
Research into the evolution of the ENS and the central nervous system (the brain) concluded that the ENS likely originated prior to and independent of the central nervous system.
The gut is frequently referred to as the second brain, however this study proposes that the nervous system found in the gut is the first brain! Across the animal kingdom, the ENS is present in all animals which have neurons - even in animals without a brain! (Furness & Stebbing, 2018)
Your ENS not only regulates digestion but alters mood, sleep, energy levels and behaviour!
Therefore supporting the ENS or the "first brain" is essential to health.
This can be achieved by feeding the gut microbiome which plays a huge role in the development and function of the ENS! The role of the gut microbiome in the development of the gut nervous system is emphasised by an animal study showing that reducing microbial populations in the gut using antibiotics results in a reduction in the number of neurons in the gut! (De Vadder et al., 2018)
Keep an eye out through the week for my top tips on supporting a healthy ENS by optimizing the gut microbiome!
De Vadder, F., Grasset, E., Holm, L. M., Karsenty, G., Macpherson, A. J., Olofsson, L. E., & Bäckhed, F. (2018). Gut microbiota regulates maturation of the adult enteric nervous system via enteric serotonin networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(25), 6458–6463. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1720017115
Furness, J. B., & Stebbing, M. J. (2018). The first brain: Species comparisons and evolutionaryimplications for the enteric and central nervous systems. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 30(2), e13234. https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.13234